what's on our mind....

looking inward: my battle with breast cancer

this is the year i get better. i’m a little over halfway through treatment for breast cancer. it’s a year-long process, though diagnosis actually took much more time. i’m a healthy eater. i was young. i didn’t have any family history, and i’ve never smoked. i was extremely fit, exercising and practicing yoga six days a week. even the doctors i regularly saw could not believe the lumps i had found were tumors. it wasn’t until my symptoms changed that i insisted on seeing a different specialist at a different hospital. it WAS cancer, and i found out the week i turned 40.

a year is a long time, and it can feel even longer when each week brings a new cancer protocol. i’ve had six rounds of pre-surgery chemotherapy, a mastectomy (with six lymph nodes removed along with my right breast), and 12 rounds of weekly taxol. the next phase of treatment includes four-to-six weeks of daily radiation, and an infusion of herceptin every three weeks until i reach the point of being a year out from when care started. i said good-bye to my hair in the fall. i feel pretty terrible most days of the week. a good cry is a good friend to me now.

a few years ago, i often passed the same mother while walking my kiddos to school. she was always pushing a double stroller. she was also bald and obviously battling cancer. she was doing it – taking care of her young kids when she probably felt incredibly unwell. i remember feeling for her, thinking to myself ; “thank goodness it’s not me because i could never handle being a mom with cancer”. i’ve never spoken to this woman, and i don’t even know her name. i had no idea she was a foreshadowing of my future self.

and now here i am, in it – handling it – doing it. i’m fighting cancer, raising two young boys with my husband paul, and i opened kodomo’s doors a short three months after my diagnosis. i am often asked: how ARE you doing all this?!” the truth is, “all this” is what gets me through my day. otherwise it would be all good cries. life goes on, like a mother pushing a stroller.

when i feel my worst, i think to myself, “i might feel better if i get out of bed and take a shower.” if that works, i get dressed and put on my makeup. and then the inertia kicks in. i’m suddenly on the way out the door to take the kids to school; to grab a coffee with a friend; possibly en route to a yoga class; and off to the shop. i’m engaged in the day and distracted from the feeling of FEELING LIKE CRAP, which would have been all-consuming had i not gotten out of bed. my focus shifts to each task, and little events of my day.

i’ve been practicing yoga and and studying its philosophy for several years now. i’m always drawn to a particular aphorism in the ancient yogic texts, “hatha yoga nusasanam”. it directly translates to, “now begins the exploration of yoga”. the exploration is not just a study of the yoga postures, but also a practice of self-study, and a practice of seeking our truth. the “now” is always, every thought and action an opportunity for us to reflect on. when faced with life challenges, it’s common to create stories and start to identify with those stories. we think, “i am…” and end with, “therefore, i can’t”. we forget our true self in the story line we create. we forget that everything else around us is in a state of constant change and that life is a series of impermanent events.

starting a small business as a mom battling cancer may seem absolutely insane, and for me at times, impossible. but i need to explore. as with my morning routine, i take my tasks one at a time. maybe today i just get out of bed. maybe tomorrow is different. things around me will shift and the story line in my head saying, “i can’t” is just that: a story without any truth. so how am i doing this all? i’m taking the small steps. i’m letting go of results. now – always – begins the exploration.

xxj

photos by sadie dayton

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dress boston: a small business story

we are a small children's boutique and we take supporting other local and small businesses very seriously. small businesses are critical to the success of our local economy. according to the small business association (SBA), small businesses have generated 64% of new jobs and paid 44% of the U.S. private payroll.

it’s not always possible to shop small. we know how day-to-day life works (especially when kids are involved): multitudes of multi-tasking across busy days; afternoons of activities that alternately drag and fly by but leave no chance for achieving anything; and evenings that are full of desperate attempts to PUT SAID KIDS TO BED. we get it and even in our own homes it’s oftentimes only amazon and next day delivery that saves the day.

but we do urge you to carve out even an hour this holiday season to visit and support at least one small, local business. get to know the shop owners and staff. hear their stories and see their passions. i’ve done just that with boston businesses over the years, and now want to share one of my own favorite local shops, dress, with you.

dress is located in a beautiful space in the old meeting house in beacon hill. owners jane schlueter and martha pickett carry a wonderful selection of some of my favorite women’s lines – NSF, frame denim, and ulla johnson – and we recently came together to host a kodomo trunk show at their location.

jane and martha are as exceptional as their taste in clothing. they were kind enough to answer a few questions about dress for me, sharing their ethos and showcasing just how exceptionally hard they work to run their wonderful store.

how did you dream up the concept of dress?

jane:

martha and I started planning dress around 2003/2004. We recognized that there was a void in the boston market. many of the brands that we loved and that inspired us weren’t available in boston at the time. we saw an opportunity for a new boutique and believed that our combined skill sets in merchandising and marketing were the right combination to create the kind of store we dreamed of.

many experiences and visions contributed to the concept of dress. ultimately, our brand is inspired by the idea of coco chanel’s “little black dress”, a reference to wardrobe staples in every woman’s closet.

we opened dress in 2005. over ten years later, we are still driven by this concept.

since opening the store, you've both added children to the mix. how has the way you work changed?

martha:

my children are young (18 months and 3 years old), so they still need me physically all day. the way i work now is totally different to how I worked before kids. things have changed particularly since the addition of our second child.

now I get the bulk of my work done in two or three chunks during the day: before they wake up, during their nap time, and the largest chunk after they go to bed.

like all working parents, I've learned to be flexible and to work much more efficiently.

thank you to jane and martha for inspiring me and other small business owners and shoppers in our area. and thanks to everyone who supported small businesses like this one on small business saturday. if you have not yet had a chance to get out and shop locally, i hope this peek behind the small business scenes inspires you to get acquainted with your own neighborhood businesses!

visit dress at 70 charles street in boston or at www.dressboston.com

xx, jasmine

shop small and support local boston businesses

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fresh made simple: recipes by lauren k. stein

we all have that mom crush - admit it, you do too!  mine happens to be chef and author extraordinaire, lauren stein.  we met at our childrens' preschool and immediately clicked.  here's why i love her: we both love to cook and lauren has an appreciation for fresh meals, made simply.  not to mention that she's an incredible mother, and chock full of good juju with all that volunteer work she does for our school :)

we recently hosted an event with lauren at kodomo.  if you haven't had a chance to pick up her beautifully illustrated cookbook, "fresh made simple", run (don't walk!) and get it.  she will transform your weeknight meals like no other.  

lauren shares one of her go-to quick and easy recipes for our latest blog.  read on and get inspired.... because i know what i will be making and eating all week!  check out lauren's webpage here

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leek corn & egg bake recipe - by lauren k. stein

you don’t have to be an expert in the kitchen to make a meal that’s delicious, healthy, and satisfying for everyone at the table. and you don’t need to shop at six different stores to get all your ingredients either. the great thing about locally-sourced, fresh ingredients is that they taste great without much extra effort from you. a few chops and you’re done. it’s hard to go wrong with fresh, natural products.

eggs are one of my favorite, easy, healthy weeknight dinners.  and, they tend to be a crowd pleaser.  plus, if you have a picky eater in the house, it's easy to make a plain batch of scramble eggs while you are whipping up a more dressed up version for the rest of the family.

this leek corn egg bake is one of my favorites.  it's full of fresh corn (or frozen!), creamy and tangy goat cheese and leeks, which are mild but still full of flavor. the best part about egg dishes is once you get a basic recipe down for the base, you can substitute any ingredients you want. i use 5 eggs and a 1/4 cup of whole milk, which usually fits a normal pie pan, then i fill it up with veggies and cheese.  add some meat if you like. scallions are great to toss in with green beans or broccoli and cheese or shredded salmon with cheddar and spinach.  the combos are endless.  you can even toss some cooked pasta into your egg bake if you like.

late season corn is just about done for the season, but for my veggies I try to shop at my local farmers market in copley or the boston public market.  the siena farms shop not far from kodomo has leeks and cheese and butter on hand, everything you need for an easy weeknight egg bake. plus, their selection of other veggies is tremendous. 

for more recipes like this – they’re fun and easy to do, whatever you think of your skills in the kitchen – get your copy of fresh made simple – your guide to enjoying fresh food that you and your family will love.

lauren k. stein will be at kodomo on sunday november 6th!


excerpted from fresh made simple (c) lauren k. stein. illustrations by (c) katie eberts. used with permission of storey publishing.

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sustainable clothing manufacturers

many parents think that when they begin the hunt for new clothing for their children, finding sustainable clothing manufacturers is one thing too many to add to their to-do list. sourcing sustainable children’s clothing manufacturers is rewarding work, however, and it’s getting easier to do every day. within the past few years, sustainable clothing brands have been popping up all over the place. children’s clothing is no exception.

more and more companies are offering sustainable clothing options because, as a whole, our society is starting to realize how important this is for the future. while “fair trade” or “green” manufacturers used to be few and far between, sustainable clothing for children has become a more viable option for consumers seeking an alternative to mass-produced "fast fashion".

knowing that consumers are increasingly conscious regarding environmental issues, the term “sustainable” has been tacked onto many products and services. it’s important to understand what this term means to us as consumers.

this word has been applied to brands that offer products that are organic, eco-friendly, vegan, handmade, or natural-made, just to name a few. a brand might also call themselves sustainable if they have a specific social cause to which they donate products and/or profits.

at kodomo, we are passionate about supporting sustainable clothing brands. we have taken time to meet with each of our designers to understand their production process and to look into their business practices. most sustainable clothing brands will be transparent about their practices and offer the public plenty of information on what makes their brand a good choice. when a clothing brand claims to be sustainable, it is up to them to go the extra mile by educating their potential customers on how their brand is making a difference in the world.

as parents, we want the best for our kids, but also for the world they will grow up in.  strictly purchasing sustainable clothing can seem idealistic and by no means achievable 100% of the time.  but as we strive for a better world, it's the thoughtfulness in our actions that will move us along that path.

xx, jasmine

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AKID donates 500 pairs of shoes to boston kids in need

we're sharing an update about a wonderful event hosted at kodomo on september 24!

our team partnered with los angeles-based footwear co. AKID to 1) officially launch AKID’s kids’ shoes in boston (now available in our beautiful city exclusively at kodomo; and 2) to celebrate an incredible, generous donation of 500 pairs of shoes, made by AKID to boston’s home for little wanderers, a local non-profit providing services and programs for child and family development.

we had over 100 familes pass through kodomo across the afternoon – they enjoyed meeting AKID’s founder ashleigh dempster, learning about the home, and having their own shoe purchases custom monogrammed on site.

we couldn't be more honored to help facilitate this donation for kids in need who will now be kicking off back to school with the coolest kicks in town! 

xx, jasmine

 

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think pink!

in honor of breast cancer awareness month kodomo will be donating 10% of our total month of october sales to help the breast cancer research foundation!

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q&a with spanish indie clothing designer motoreta

the by-gone tradition of slow manufacturing clothing has been given a revival thanks to up and coming independent designers like Motoreta.  

q: you both began your careers in architecture- do you find any similarities between fashion design and architecture?  if so, what are they?

a: absolutely yes! garment design practices started as a small part of the whole work process in our architectural office. as architects but also designers, the ideas flow between both fields. even we share the same inspiration sources: art, music, movies.... the design and production of a dress is not very different from the process of designing an architectural detail or a unique furniture. in both cases, you have to find out the patterns, the technique, the best materials and the way to make the idea that you have in mind, real, tactile and meaningful. it is all about having fun!

q: i've never travelled to seville.  can you tell us what it's like?  do you have any favorite sights to see?

a: seville is the capital of andalusia, in the very south of spain. a unique place with a strong identity and tradition. walking its old town is a must, it contains three UNESCO world heritage sites. also you can’t not miss the bank of the guadalquivir river. It is full of nice terraces and it is the best area for runners and bikers.

one of our favorite places to go is the alameda de hercules, very close to where we live and the new hot area in town. you can have the lunch there in one the many restaurants and bars meanwhile the kids are playing. the atmosphere is easy and relaxed. the best museum is the CAAC, the andalusian contemporary art center.

seville. It’s an amazing city and one of our sources of inspiration.

q: trends vs style. what comes to mind?

a:  i think is style. fashion for kids has more freedom so the creative process is not forced to follow the trend every season and for us that is really important. we design what we love for kids and also for ourselves!

q:  your first impression of boston?

a:  it is a beautiful city with an impressive cultural and historical background! so friendly and cool. it is easy to walk and for kids is perfect with many green areas. we can’t wait to take a look to the revitalized area of the seaport district.  

q: inspiration for the FW16 collection?

a:  the motoreta FW16|17 collection “standing mobile” is all about movement, about being changeable in appearance or mood but at the same time captivating the always curious child’s mind. this season´s shapes and prints were inspired by alexander calder’s work. they follow the natural form of a plant, or a rock and then combined with geometries and colors. the result is catchy vintage flower prints and abstract graphics. cristina and the creative minds behind motoreta have thought about a FW season in cozy textured knitted garments and soft fabrics including our iconic silhouettes and contemporary shapes. blue, navy, black, brown, white, stripes, dots, geometry and organic forms to celebrate what changes and what stays the same in a child’s life.

q: what are your children's favorite pieces from the FW collection?

a:  all of the coats and sweaters, and definitely the yumiko dress.  honestly, it's difficult to pick a favorite - they love it all!
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kodomo's story

did you know me pre-kodomo? then you’ve likely asked me one of the following questions about my decision to launch this new adventure:

“children’s clothing?”

“retail?”

“you?”

cleary the story needs to be told. so here is the winding path that led to kodomo’s founding. know first and foremost that it was not a lonely road, but rather a journey that includes an incredible community of artists and creators supporting and contributing the whole way.

my career began in the most corporate way possible: in a cubicle at a big-four accounting firm in tokyo, japan. tokyo was a world away from my quiet hometown of alberta, canada. it was exciting to be there, and inspirational. i will always remember the genuine respect the japanese have for others – will forever admire their devotion to mastering a skill – and will always appreciate their ability to find beauty in simplicity. tokyo was a unique place to enter adulthood.

three cities later, eight years of corporate work behind me, i was burnt out. i had accumulated a wealth of business skills and was ready for a change. i turned to yoga, which at that point had been a significant part of my life for several years. it offered the self-reflection and stress-recovery i was craving. i deepened my studies and practice and began to teach classes in boston. again, eight years passed. in this time my family grew as well: i met my husband, we married, and two adorably rambunctious boys were added to our mix.  

that second wave of years taught me what that first wave could not – something i had seen in tokyo, in the japanese, but had not been able to embody amidst the frenzy of my corporate day-to-day. eight years of teaching yoga and motherhood made me mindful. the word feels clichéd as I write it – “be present” and “mindful” have become such buzz words and catch-all phrases – but believe that it is truly a profound one for me. to be mindful is to observe your actions, and the impacts of your choices. on the simplest level: how do I feel after I eat junk food versus a healthy home-cooked meal? on a more questioning level: what’s my loss if i go to another event, in the place of spending quality time at home with my family? and deeper yet: what impact am i having on the world, as i make my daily consumption choices? do I really need to consume as much? where is the clothing i buy coming from? how was it made? who made it? finally ultimately, the underlying wonder: how do I answer these questions? maybe i only do the right thing some of the time. but if we don’t think of right action, how do we get better? how do we become more skillful in our actions?

the idea of kodomo arose from these questions and this need to live a more mindful existence. at this point i had been shopping for a family of four for some time. i had long been frustrated by the limited children’s clothing options available in boston. now I was fueled by the answers to my questions of consumption. i knew that fast fashion – so frequently embodied by the mistreatment of workers, the harsh chemicals used in production, and a clear disregard for our planet – was the antithesis of what I wanted in our nuclear world. do we succumb to buying one more so the 3rd pair is free? to grabbing a stack of t-shirts because they’re inexpensive? again, answers in an underlying wonder: can we go back to the days when clothing was slow manufactured, and our children’s things were special, each to be held onto and cherished and then passed along?

i revitalized my business acumen, bought “retail for dummies” and dug deep into my college memory bank to begin to craft a business plan. and then fortune intervened, and i met the first of the folks who would help me carry my ideas to fruition. this is my mentor and now-friend, katherine edmonds. i look forward to sharing the story of katherine’s talents and work when i next write, as well as the stories of the other incredibly talented and like-minded partners i have met in this process. in time, i would also like to share life-changing news i have been presented with very recently, and the challenges i hope to overcome.

i leave you now with highlights about kodomo, the business at the root of all of this. kodomo is a thoughtful children’s boutique, carrying brands that are focused not only on style but on ethical business practices. the store is located in the historic south end neighborhood of boston. we have just two months left until its opening. please follow along – we are thrilled to have you joining us on our journey.

xx, jasmine

 

 

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